Sunday, November 30, 2008

Language for Conservatives to Avoid (continued)

This post includes two examples of such language related to presidential elections.

Presidential Election (when referring to the election for members of the Electoral College)

The quadrennial elections that are held in all 50 states and the District of Columbia on the first Tuesday after the first Monday are for members of the Electoral College (electors), not for president or vice president, even though it is the names of the candidates for president and vice president that are printed on the ballot. In other words, there is no direct presidential election, only indirect ones. Note my use of the plural elections; there is no "presidential election," only 51 separate elections. This distinction between the election for electors and for president and vice president has been widely lost. Thus, many people were surprised and even disturbed that George W. Bush became president even though his ticket lost the popular vote, which contributed to a sense among Democrats that his election was illegitimate, and undermined support for keeping the Electoral College, or at least some such system that helps to prevent the larger states from dominating the smaller ones.

Similarly, we should avoid phrases like "I voted for so and so for president" or "so and so received x number of votes." It is better to refer to "the ticket" as having received these votes because that ticket's slate of candidates for elector are the ones who truly receive the votes, not the presidential and vice presidential candidates themselves. In the disputed Election of 2000, Democrats tried to bolster their case by arguing that Albert Gore had received more votes than Bush, but they both truly received an equal number of votes: zero.

President-Elect (before the Electoral College has voted)

The president and vice president are elected by the Electors on the first Monday after the second Wednesday in December on those years the Electors are chosen. If the Electors fail to reach a majority for president, then the House of Representatives elects the president, and if the Electors fail to reach a majority for vice president, then they Senate elects the vice president. Although "faithless electors" are few (those who do not vote for their party's candidates), and there are sometimes disputes about their election or qualifications to hold the office of elector, the main point is to uphold the distinction between the election for electors and for president and vice president.

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Language for Conservatives to Avoid

Language is important to conservative Americans because America is a land of written law. Liberals try to change the law by changing the meaning of words. Therefore, it is the duty of conservative Americans to conserve and defend our English language.

The corruption of our language has also benefited liberals more generally because incorrect or imprecise language decreases knowledge of civics. Less knowledge of civics allows for the wider acceptance of policies contrary to the intent of the Founding Fathers of the United States, as well as other bad policies.

More precision in language also improves communication and demonstrates greater knowledge. Moreover, it is always prudent to strive for accuracy and truth. Therefore, I welcome edits from readers and suggestions for language that better serves the cause of liberty.

The post will be the first of a series suggesting examples of words or phrases that should be avoided, especially by conservatives. The first two may seem innocent, but help to erode the principle of federalism established by the Framers of the Constitution of the United States of America that limited the powers of the federal government and recognized the sovereignty of the states that formed the Union:

Nation, national, nationwide (when referring to the United States of America)

A nation is a people united by birth, that is to say, their nativity and patrimony (or heritage). In other words, a nation is like an ethnic group. As Americans are comprised of many ethnic groups, the U.S. is neither a nation in the original sense of the word, nor a nation-state, which is a state based upon ethnicity. The U.S. is not even a state, which is a sovereign, independent political entity, but a union of states. Although nation has come to have a similar meaning to country, the U.S. is not a country, either, for the same reason it is not a state. The reference to the U.S. as a "nation" was as part of a beautiful metaphor in Abraham Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Alas, the term has become acceptable usage, even though it is revolutionary if taken literally. Better examples of phrases to describe the U.S. include the following: the Union, the Federal Union, the Republic, or the States, instead of the Nation; American, instead of national; and across the Union or throughout the States, instead of nationwide.

"All levels of government, federal, state and local"

The phrase implies that the relationship between the federal and state governments is the equivalent as between the state and local, that is to say, as if the states are created by the federal government, just as the local governments are created by their states. However, the relationship is not equal because although the states created the federal government, the states were not created, in turn, by their local governments. States are not like provinces, which are subordinate administrative subdivisions, as local governments are to states. The federal government and the states are not levels of government, but two sovereigns. Therefore, a more precise phrase is "both the federal government and the state and local levels."

Perhaps you can be creative in thinking up other accurate phrases that take back our language from liberals by avoiding chipping away at federalism, as well as that educate our fellow countrymen.

Thank you for your support

Thank you, dear readers, for your support, which is making my launch of this blog successful. I apologize for taking so long to post your comments, as I am still learning how to blog properly and did not notice them until now.

I should note what I intend to discuss on this blog in particular: my views that reflect my Christian, conservative American values. We all have unique perspectives, but I hope that my particular perspective as a historian, an ethnic-American and an urban resident and elected official will be especially interesting and informative to you. I believe that it is helpful to our cause of liberty to remain optimistic and upbeat and confident as best we can, despite the challenges.

I also intend to comment about language (hence the tagline "The Definitive Word"), not only because it is relevant to politics, where it can be used or misused in rhetoric, but also because it is a worthy subject in itself to increase knowledge and foster better communication. My goal is not to be overly pedantic in the process, which can be enjoyable.

I intend to blog as often as I think appropriate, depending on the news of the day, although I also wish to comment about more general issues, so please visit occasionally. I invite your participation, as I know you are thoughtful readers, many of whom are skilled writers yourselves. I cannot wait to post more thoughts to share! Again, thank you.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Be Thankful, Despite the Election

Many people have asked me my opinion about the election and have sought my consolation. I have encouraged them to be of good cheer for several reasons. First of all, on this Thanksgiving we are reminded that we must always be grateful for our faith, our family, our liberty and our bounty.

As conservatives, we can take consolation that many Obama voters did not know about his radical proposals, nor necessarily agree with them even if they did. Public opinion polls, referenda, and the election victories of many conservatives suggest that the voters did not reject conservatism necessarily, even though they elected a radical liberal. A disturbingly high number of voters even mistakenly believed that the Republicans were the majority in the unpopular Congress.

Elections, like the one in 2008, often are decided by personality and chance. Obama's personal appeal and call for "change," and the voters' rejection of the Republican Party they associated with President George W. Bush, combined with the untimely slowdown of the economy that had been in prosperity for several years and is currently threatened by a bewildering financial crisis, overcame the experienced, maverick war hero, John McCain. However, the Democratic ticket did not win by a popular landslide. Indeed, a shift of just a few hundred thousand votes in some of the battleground states would have produced a victory for the McCain-Palin ticket.

The Republican Party was also victimized to some degree by its own success, having kept us free from terrorist attack for seven years, which allowed voters to focus on lesser matters.

It will be interesting to see the voters' reaction once Obama or the liberal Democratic congressional majority promote some of the unpopular items on their agenda. Already it appears that Obama may be backing away from some proposals in order to compromise and accomplish goals without sacrificing much of his popularity. In short, either Obama and the Democrats in Congress will govern as radicals, and suffer electoral defeat, or govern as center-leftists and still have a chance at electoral success.

Although the liberal Democrats will inflict some damage to the United States (especially the long-term damage from judicial appointments), our responsibility as the loyal opposition is to limit that damage by opposing what bad policies we can while promoting our conservative principles that we know are right and, in many cases, are also popular. We can compromise without giving up these principles for the good of the Republic, even if it benefits Obama and the Democrats politically, just as the Republican Congress saved Clinton from himself by limiting his damage. But this time, we should do a better job of claiming the credit for any successes.

We have been through a period of opposition before and have been able to accomplish much both in opposition, as well as afterwards once back in power. We shall do so again.


Welcome to my blog. On this Thanksgiving Day, I am both grateful and excited to have the opportunity to share my thoughts and promulgate them more widely, as I have been encouraged to do by friends and family.

Check back soon for interesting posts. God bless.